Friday, September 18, 2009

Why Banana has so much appeal

I’ve been a fan of Banana Republic for a long time and I don’t even like a lot of what they carry in the store. But, I can usually find at least one thing I want anytime I walk into any of their stores… anywhere. I know how much of their clothes fit and I can buy, try at home and return unworn items within 30 days as long as the tags remain and I keep my receipts. Plus, they often have awesome sales. What could be easier?

What I’m not so crazy about is the fact it’s a chain store. I wish I had more time to spend trying on clothes at smaller, local shops and boutiques. Truth be told, I’m often in a rush and I’ve gained some weight, which makes it harder to find something I like that both fits and is affordable. At the end of the day, when I’m in a rush and looking for something reliable and within my budget, Banana is often my default stop.

During our trip to Chicago, although I did a bit of shopping (still another post or two to follow), I didn’t buy any new clothes for fall. So, when a coupon for 40% off appeared in my inbox the other day, I was thought it was pretty darn awesome. Of course I shared it immediately on my Twitter feed. Yep, 40% off on all regular-priced merchandise for two full days in mid-September is a pretty sweet deal.

Like everyone else who works on Bloor Street and can’t afford the likes of Chanel, I scooted on over at lunchtime on day one. The store was absolutely packed with people but low on stock. The line-ups at the cash were not to be believed. It looked like Boxing Day in the 80s! Thanks to the suggestion from Sarah Roger, I had hoped to find a suit but their really weren’t any that cranked my chain. Oddly enough, the fitting rooms were relatively empty. I quickly picked up a few pairs of pants and tried them on to confirm my size.

Then I went on to survey the rest of the store all the while wondering how I’d possibly have time to stand in line for at least 30-40 minutes. I had a client meeting in 15. There was no way. I resigned myself to putting down the pile of pants I was carrying, when out of nowhere came a salesperson. I took a chance and asked if he’d be able to put my items on hold. I told him I’d be back to buy all of them – even at 40% off, Banana was still accepting returns – he told me I could have until the end of tomorrow. Music to my ears. I couldn’t believe it – most stores would have said no way, especially when the stock was so low. I’m sure wearing a Banana Republic dress didn’t hurt my cause either. ;-)

How could I avoid a line up the next day? I needed to devise a plan. Hmm, arrive before noon to try beating the lunch rush. Walk directly to the cashier counter, do not pass go. Do not look at a single piece of clothing. Don’t worry about the clothes on hold.

Get in line, NOW! You’ll find a salesperson while your waiting. Yep, that was my plan. It worked. I was in line for less than 10 minutes, when a salesperson appeared. She was helping another woman in line who looked like she was buying one of everything in the store for her daughters. Be patient. Just a minute. Ah, finally. I had her attention and told her I had several pairs of pants and one sweater on hold. Within three minutes she was back with only a minute to spare before it was my turn to pay. Yahoo!

At the cash, I double-checked the return policy and also learned I could even exchange any of my purchase for the same item in another size at the same price (to be confirmed). I also got a postcard giving me 40% off on one regular-priced item once a week throughout the entire month of October! Talk about service and cultivating customer loyalty. Maybe I’ll still get that new suit yet... and at 40% off.

Have any shopping tricks up your sleeve?


  1. Thanks for the mention!

    The first day of the 40% off sale during our lunch break I ventured with a coworker to the Banana Republic at the Eaton Centre and our jaws dropped at the lineup to pay.

    Both of us split up and grabbed some items and tried them on while waiting in line to pay. I grabbed a blazer, skirt and trousers (Lightweight wool in Charcoal). I tried on the blazer in line and loved the fit and colour. I decided to try the skirt and trousers on at home as I didn't want to lose my spot in line and I wasn't waiting for the change rooms.

    After waiting 45 minutes in line, we eventually paid and were out of the store.

    I tried on the skirt and trousers at home and really didn't like the fit of either. The skirt was too form fitting for my liking and the trousers were lined, which I am not a fan of. I'll bring them back next week and hopefully exchange or return them. I'm confident I won't have any problems because of their good customer service and exchange policy.

  2. Anonymous10:05 pm

    I had wanted to go to get some work worthy shirts...but alas, just couldn't make the time to get to a store :(
    but i love the one a week coupon thing!
    gotta love that they want you so spend more, at a much more decent price :P

  3. You're welcome Sarah! I hadn't even give thought to buying high-ticket items until I read your tweet.

    Just a word of caution, as for exchanges, my understanding is you can exchange for size only in order to retain the 40% off.

    Sarah and Razilla, I wish I had seen more shirts and sweaters I liked, maybe next time.

    I'm thrilled about the 40% off one item per week during October because I can be more strategic about my purchases, the stock won't be so depleted and the lines should be back to normal.

    Have any other tips for those coupons you want to share?



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